Sheila Phillips won the title of Ms. Southwest Georgia Senior in Waverly Hall in June. She will speak at church and civic meets, as requested on topics of aging and senior issues.
ALBANY, Ga. — Sheila Phillips has worked as an registered nurse for 39 years. She’s taught nursing at Darton College, done medical missionary work in India and held a major singing role in The Sound of Music. She’s even played baritone horn in her high school marching band.
Now she’s Ms. Southwest Georgia Senior.
“I never even thought of doing something like that,” said Phillips, 62. “I’ve never been in competition with other women for anything.”
Phillips said she agreed to enter the pageant only after her friend Anne Hewett “twisted her arm.”
“Anne was convinced I’d win,” Phillips said, “so finally I just gave in.”
The contest was held in Waverly Hall, nearby to Columbus on June 4 of this year. In addition to the entry fee, the primary qualification was that all applicants be at least 60 years of age, Phillips said. The categories in which contestants were judged included talent, on-stage interview and evening gown presentation.
According to Phillips, a family emergency almost kept her from the competition. Two days before the pageant, her dad, who lived in Blairsville suffered a stoke and needed to be cared for. Phillips made the drive but found her dad more upset about her missing the competition than with his own condition.
“Everyone was so certain I would win,” Phillips said. “My parents; my husband, Carlos; my friend Anne — everyone wanted me to go. We made some arrangements and I went on ahead with it.”
Phillips drove to Columbus and spent the night, she said. The next night she went to the pageant — and lost.
“I made runner-up,” Phillips said. “Well, we always knew that could happen. Brenda (the winning contestant) did a very good job. We found out later there was less than a half a point difference in our scores.”
Two months later, the pageant winner went on to compete in the Ms. Georgia Senior pageant in Atlanta and was victorious there, allowing Phillips to step in as the new Ms. Southwest Georgia Senior.
“Carlos was excited,” Phillips said. “He called me up and said ‘Hey that woman who beat you just won the Ms. Georgia Senior pageant.’”
Until her reign ends in June 2012, Phillips will speak, as requested, to church or civic groups in senior issues and positive aspects of aging.